Exploring vegan, vegetarian and sustainable cooking



We’re Matt and Keith. Matt does most of the cooking. Keith is happy to eat it.

As people who love food, we have accumulated numerous recipe books (and magazines) over the years—either purchased or as gifts. However, it’s easy to forget about these and stick to your usual favourite recipes, relegating your treasures to the shelf, accumulating dust. For us, that’s shelf 5 on our bookcase.

Launched in 2010, this site was part of a New Year’s resolution to make at least one new recipe every week. The farther from the ordinary, the better. (This will hopefully help us cut down on our dusting.)

Shelf5 will document this experience. We’ll share the recipes, the cooking process and the (hopefully spectacular) outcomes.


These years saw little activity on the site. I launched a wedding photography business, and funneled my energy (and photography skills) into that work.


After returning and posting a bit of content through 2016, we had another quiet year in 2017. We made a spur-of-the-moment decision to move from Montreal to Toronto on Canada Day 2017, and within weeks, we were living in Toronto. Needless to say, it took us a while to get adjusted to our new life.


While we weren’t posting on Shelf5, or cooking and diets evolved. We started getting more interested in nutrition and what we were eating (although it still needed to taste great). We reduced the refined sugars and refined carbohydrates in our diet, and increased our protein consumption.

Gradually, we reduced the meat we were eating, replacing it with plant-based proteins. We started with tofu. Then we started incorporating tempeh and TVP. Then we learned about seitan and began experimenting with seitan recipes.

Partway through 2018 we became vegetarian, eliminating meat, but still consuming copious amounts of milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs.

As we started discovering delicious, satisfying plant-based recipes, we started phasing out all animal-based foods through November and December 2018.


Inspired by this video by The Buddhist Chef, we became vegan as part of our 2019 New Year’s resolution.

So after a year of inactivity, we’re back strong in 2019, sharing the delicious vegan food we’re discovering.

We’re also adapting some of our favourite baking recipes into vegan recipes, replacing the eggs, butter and other dairy products with plant-based alternatives. Vegan baking has a horrible reputation for being bland and dry—so instead of using vegan recipes, we’re adapting our delicious tried-and-true recipes, and sharing our adapted vegan recipes with the world!


We’ve been vegan for 4 years. Mostly. Our groceries have been 100% vegan and non-processed. Our diet feels lighter; we’re eating more vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Some of it’s organic. Our grocery bill has been slashed. But when visiting friends, family, and travelling, we relax these rules to be reasonable guests (we love food too much to settle for a green salad, and we don’t want to be those vegans).

After renovating our kitchen, during which we binged on Julia Child’s The French Chef on Tubi, we’ve been inspired to explore the French classics. Some vegetable recipes are naturally vegan, or can be easily made vegan with substitutions. But some recipes simply can’t be made without eggs, real butter and other animal-based ingredients.

So in 2023, we’re loosening our dietary restrictions, while keeping a focus on healthy and sustainable cooking. For us, this means

  • Eating vegan as much as possible
  • Incorporating free-range eggs only when absolutely necessary
  • Organic butter and cream, again, only when plant-based alternatives won’t work in a recipe
  • Small amounts of sustainable fish and free-range chicken, on special occasions

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